Ed White had one of the most committed, hard-working staffs in the district when I was there. We were a family. We built strong long-lasting friendships amongst faculty, outstanding mentoring relationships with our students, and even stronger bonds with families and our community. It didn't matter that demographics were changing. It didn't matter that socio-economic status was changing.
That family worked hard every day to support those kids in EVERYTHING: from varsity football to Model UN to robotics to top of the line drama programs and beyond. We were good at everything, because we had kids who trusted their teachers to drive them to be the best, because we had teachers who trusted their administrators to back them in order to take the risks necessary to drive kids to be the best, and because we had families who trusted teachers and administrators to give the best possible education to those students. We may not have lived up to the tests that the state had in mind, but our students were receiving the best education possible given everything we had to offer them.
Then, the roulette began. After a long-time, culture defining Principal retired, the district opted to replace him with FOUR separate principals, none of which lasted longer than two years. The culture that had helped make Ed White great disintegrated. Teacher turnover reached massive levels, as the same teachers who helped build the culture left for places where they could find that culture again, because of burnout, health issues, and other reasons.
Those who remained stayed as committed, but they were outnumbered by those who didn't know or understand the potential and greatness around them. This is not a slight at the teachers who remain there today, especially those who are still dedicated at Ed White and to its success, but a reminder of how precious their commitment is. Those same teachers who remain today from six years ago can be counted as a tiny fraction of the total faculty.
It should be noted that not all the blame for this lays at the feet of our current superintendent, but the power to change it does. And his failure to do so is a crime against our students and a crime against their future.
Ed White deserves strong leadership, and strong leadership that is allowed to establish a culture of excellence once more. Duval County deserves that. Nikolai Vitti doesn't provide it. Who will hold him accountable?